Hi, my name is Nicole, and I’m a lousy housekeeper.
Many of my friends know that this is something I have, shall we say, a “hangup” about. I feel like I should be able to do it, but the routines and consistency it requires are elusive to me. There are some spaces in our home that are fairly presentable, and others where it looks like someone brought in a truck and dumped 6 tons of life into a pile.
I know in my head that God defines my value and not how clean my house is. But over and over again, this situation generates a range of emotions from resigned acceptance to actual despair. There’s a fear there, too, that age-old fear of being fully known and rejected for not being good enough. (spoiler alert: in a couple of months, we’re going to spend some time talking about being fully known and have some beautiful new products to help support us).
There’s a reason I’m telling you this, because last week’s post was about shining our light out into the circles we are part of out in the world, and today we’re going to talk about inviting people in to the light we’re cultivating in our homes and lives. And I have a sneaking suspicion I’m not the only one who has been held back in doing that because we’re dealing with some fear about whether our homes (and our very lives) “measure up.” I know. I know how it can feel like we need to hide our literal or figurative mess behind closed doors, stuffed into closets, pushed under beds. So let’s address the elephant in the room and bring it to light.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:15, “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house.” Sometimes we let things like doubts about our homes or ourselves be the “basket” that we put over our light to hide it. Our homes can be extensions of ourselves, and we can fear judgment and harbor shame if we don’t feel like they are “good enough” by whatever metric we decide is important. Being fully seen and known, without being sure if people will accept us, is one of the more terrifying opportunities life offers. But if we don’t, we miss out on so much.
As we talk about what it means to invite people in to our lives, I found author Jen Wilkin’s description of what it means to provide entertainment vs. hospitality extremely helpful:
Entertaining is always thinking about the next course. Hospitality burns the rolls because it was listening to a story.
Entertaining obsesses over what went wrong. Hospitality savors what was shared.
Entertaining, exhausted, says “It was nothing, really!” Hospitality thinks it was nothing. Really.
Entertaining seeks to impress. Hospitality seeks to bless.
Think about how Jesus lived. One of the first things He did after the time came for him to begin His public ministry was to go invite some folks to come along (we call them the disciples). They weren’t the most obvious choices, and He didn’t have a perfect Pinterest meal on the table for them. He offered them Himself, and they said yes. Now I’m not for a second trying to say that we are as compelling as Christ. But Scripture tells us that when we place our trust in Him, the Holy Spirit comes to live in us (Acts 2:38), bringing with Him the power to do things like love well over the long haul, to discern, to show true kindness, to be patient, and to be self-sacrificing. These qualities are compelling. Even as God is working in us to perfect them, they are worth sharing.
The foundational verse for EtchLife’s “A Shared Table is a Shared Life” Collection is 1 Thessalonians 2:8, which says, “We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too.” Maybe it’s not only so much about opening our homes regularly, but having hearts and lives that are open to having others along for the ride no matter what we’re doing. So how do we do that?
Invite people into what you’re already doing
We all feel so busy…when would we have time to coordinate extra plans? What if we did this: Think about what we or our families are doing alone, and is there a way you could invite someone along? You want to go for a walk tonight…why not invite a friend to walk with you and chat? You know you’ve got your child’s baseball game later in the week…why not invite your sports-loving friend to come with you? Maybe you love to bake…why not have a fellow baker over to make cookies and exchange them? You’ve wanted to check out that new coffee shop…why not text that friend you’ve told “we should get together soon” 12 times and see if she’ll meet you?
It’s in these sorts of casual spaces that real life is shared and mutual interest and trust is built, the kind that can lead to spiritual conversations and Spirit-prompted sharing of the Gospel. It’s not about inviting people in with an agenda to convert them, but rather about showing real interest in them as human beings and creating a space for God to work.
Now, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include a note for my introvert sisters and brothers. If you are reading this and you’re already tired, I’m with you. I don’t want to communicate for a second that the only way to share your light is to go against how you are wired and completely drain yourself. But we also aren’t excused from hospitality. In an interview with Christianity Today about his book The Simplest Way to Save the World: Biblical Hospitality as a Way of Life, co-author Brandon Clements says,:
“I am in introvert with a capital ‘I’, so I also was a reluctant convert to the practice of opening my home. Ultimately, seeing the character of God as a hospitable God changed me. He’s pursued us ever since our first parents declared independence from Him, and the whole saga of creation from the garden to the new heaven and earth is a story of God’s hospitality to wayward sinners.
The fact that I can in some small way put that cosmic story on display through saying, ‘Hey, would you want to come over for dinner?’ has been a complete game changer for me.”
Here's sort of a P.S.…as you look around and see who you might invite into your life, notice whether or not all the people you are doing life with are just like you in life stage, gender, ethnicity, beliefs, etc. If so, consider making an intentional effort to get to know someone outside those circles. You’re bound to have something in common on which to build a friendship, and you’ll both have broadened your horizons!
Here are some resources that might be helpful to you, as well as some of our favorite products that make beautiful conversation starts in your home!
- “Why Hospitality Beats Entertaining” by Jen Wilkin for The Gospel Coalition
- “Biblical Hospitality: The Simplest Way to Change the World, an Interview with Dustin Willis & Brandon Clements"
- “Building Friendships With Women in Different Seasons” with Elizabeth Woodson for the Risen Motherhood podcast
- "Eat Together," sermon from Pastor Merle Mees, Pleasant Valley Baptist Church, 8/18/19
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- Tags: 1 Thessalonians 2:8, Elizabeth Woodson, friends, good housekeeping, hospitality, inviting, Jen Wilkin, life, Matthew 5:16, Merle Mees, neighbors, Nicole Swanson, Risen Motherhood, The Gospel Coalition